In one month’s time, the best of short film will be celebrated at the Yorkton Film Festival (YFF). Now in its 69th year, the festival is gearing up for the big weekend on May 26 to 29.
Randy Goulden, Executive Director of the YFF, says that the reason the festival is now the oldest in Canada is thanks to the community. Whether it’s sponsors, volunteers or board members, the local people are what make the festival work.
“It’s really made us the talk of the country when it comes to film festivals.”
Volunteers are the “ambassadors for Yorkton and the province,” and they are still looking for more, whether it’s shuttle drivers to collect the filmmakers, mini-cinema, registration, or Lobsterfest. She notes they always need people to keep the festival going, and if anyone wants to help there are plenty of opportunities.
The plans are charging forward, with 250 entries. Goulden emphasizes that the festival is more than a weekend, and entries in the festival are taken beyond the weekend event. She notes that one of the entries, Sticks and Stones, is about curling, and a film that she’s very excited about screening not only in the festival, but taking into communities through outreach programming.
“We’re very pleased with the quantity and the quality of the films, and how it speaks to the every day lives of Canadians.”
While the festival has events year round, the festival weekend is the signature event, and provides many opportunities for filmmakers. The commissioner of the National Film Board and the CEO of the Canadian Media Fund will be at the event, as well as a variety of panels over the weekend.
The opening film of the festival will be “The Sabbatical,” directed by Saskatchewan filmmaker Brian Stockton. Goulden is proud to have a Saskatchewan production open the festival and is excited about bringing Stockton to kick off the event. She also notes that the program for the awards celebration is bringing back one of Yorkton’s sons, with Alvin Law as the emcee for the evening’s celebration.
The signature event of the festival will again be Lobsterfest on May 27, held in conjunction with the Yorkton Lions. Goulden says that it’s an event that’s about bringing people together to see what Yorkton has to offer. She also notes that the evening skeet shooting will be a rare opportunity for the filmmakers, and says the Yorkton Wildlife Federation’s support at the festival is vital to have that part of the event go well.
“This is an opportunity for filmmakers and Yorkton residents to sit around tables talk about the city and what the filmmakers do and enjoy some really good Yorkton hospitality. The Yorkton Lions are phenomenal and the partnership we have with them is exceptional.”
Whether it’s teaching young people how to make films through what Goulden calls the best one-day film school in Canada, or new programming through the entire year, the festival is entering its 69th year at its strongest point, and is building towards the next seventy years of film.